Ways To Reduce Your Outdoor Water Usage

Summer is hot and our yards are often thirsty for water.  If you have just received your recent water bill, you may be looking for ways to reduce water usage this month.  Saving money on utility bills isn’t easy, however, there are a few things you can do that reduce your outdoor water usage.  

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Ways to Reduce Outdoor Water Usage using smart watering techniques, rain barrel and xeriscaping

In order to keep my plants from drying up, I have learned several ways to get the most out of my outdoor watering. This helps keep my landscaping  and save money when my water bill comes. And, since water is definitely a limited resource, conserving it is an important part of living an eco-friendly lifestyle!  I thought I would share a few ways to reduce your outdoor water usage so you can put them money away for your next vacation instead! 

outdoor stairs with native plants

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Reduce Your Outdoor Water Usage with Native Plants

I live in the south where summers are often incredibly hot and dry. Unfortunately, hot and dry is really not all that good for my garden and landscaping! However, we are working hard to replace water hungry plants with hardier native varieties.

To save money on water, choose plants that are best suited to your climate. Buying grasses designed for cool climates when you live in Texas will not make for a happy lawn. Consider native species when designing your landscaping. Check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for information on plants native to your particular area.

Like these ways to reduce your outdoor water usage? Read these posts, too:

Wooden Rain Barrel collecting runoff from roof through gutters.

What Is The Best Way To Water The Garden?

Do not water your plants when the sun is at its hottest.  Much of it will be lost to evaporation instead of being absorbed by your plants. You should be watering deeply instead of doing frequent, shallow watering to encourage deep root formation. A hose is one of those essential gardening supplies I recommend, however, the type you choose (and how you use it) does make a difference. 

Easy outdoor watering tips:

wood mulch in a wheel barrow

Can Mulch Help Reduce Water Use?  YES!

This is one of the most important aspects of keeping the water you apply to your plants in the soil instead of evaporating into the air! Mulching also reduces weed growth and weeds competing with your plants for water. You can use wood chips, pine straw,  old newspaper, or many other types of materials. There are even mulches made out of recycled rubber

If you want to get mulch in bulk, see if you can get it delivered from a local garden center rather than buying it in bags.  That helps reduce garbage output and keep your footprint lower. 

Tips for Laying Down Mulch

  • Pull weeds out of the area you want to mulch.
  • Create an edge for the mulch using a long handled square garden spade.   
  • Shovel small piles of mulch onto the exposed soil.  You can add a weed barrier for longer protection from weeds. 
  • Rake the mulch over the area in an even layer. 
  • Water your organic mulch.  
  • Replace the every year or add new mulch on top.

homeowner reducing water usage using stone and drought resistant landscaping

What Are The Best Lawn Alternatives To Reduce Outdoor Watering?

While grass is great for dogs to run on and kids to play in, it really isn’t very environmentally friendly. Check out Earth Easy for information on Xeriscaping (basically, a method of landscape design that minimizes water use). You can design your yard completely without grass and still have a beautiful yard!  If you are gardening in the dessert and trying to keep your lawn green, your water bill is going to be astronomically high.

What are some alternatives to traditional lawns? Ornamental grasses are drought-resistant and incredibly low-maintenance. They thrive in nearly every type of soil and usually require little to no fertilizers.  Planting a moss bed is another way to reduce water usage outside.  My husband and I have been planting small amounts of moss around our outdoor pond, although we have yet to get it to really thrive.  Check out this book on moss gardening to learn how. 

You can also plant ground cover like clover. Clover is an outstanding  lawn alternative. It’s thick and comfortable on your bare feet, as well as being highly drought-resistant, and very durable.  Of course, you could ditch the grass completely and just add stone and mulch to your entire yard.  No more lawn to water at all would save you money on your water bill!

water usage in in the garden with drip irrigation

Try Installing An Irrigation System For Smarter Water Usage

This is a bit of an investment but if you are doing some green home improvements this year it might be worth investigating. Drip irrigation systems are much more effective than watering with a sprinkler system since the water is delivered to the root system slowly so the plants have time to absorb it.

How does drip irrigation save water? With drip irrigation, your hose or pipe is right at soil level, close to the plant you are watering. Drip irrigation supplies anywhere from one to four gallons of water per hour directly to the soil. (This depends on your settings and irrigation system) The advantage of drip irrigation over sprinklers is that there is little water loss due to evaporation or runoff. 

How long do you water with drip irrigation? The time it takes a drip system to apply 1 inch of water to the soil depends on the flow rate and is a bit complicated to figure out. However, check out the Penn State Extension for complete details. 


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